Tag Archives: ironman gncc

The extreme awesomeness that creates the Awesomenicity that is Ironman GNCC

Lots of people like to mark time based on an event.  You know, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation dates, first day of school, first date, Monday etc…  Some days are more memorable than others, such as your first Pearl Jam concert or when your dog did not pee in the house etc…  Even Facebook realizes that people want to remember things, so it will show you the stupid things you did 3 years ago on this date as well as the great things you did.  (Of course some people take that too far and have to share that silliness, but that is another rant.)

I tend to mark time with the Ironman GNCC calendar date.  It is a significant event in my life.  It is kinda the race that really got me into this in the first place, It is the race that made me say I wanted to do all the GNCC series, it is the only GNCC race that Liz has ever been to, (we one time went from the GNCC race there directly to Charlottesville Virginia to a Pearl Jam concert, but that also is another story.) The Ironman GNCC has been such an amazing thing for me, it tends to be the one thing that I always start my calendar with.

Sometimes, getting the whole first turn to yourself isn’t a good thing.

It has everything going for it.

Location.  It is in Indiana, and as you have heard from me in the past, all good things with dirt biking tend to happen in Indiana.  National Enduro’s, an Enduro through a nudist colony, GNCC races, Full Gas Enduro’s, Chris Bach is from there, the IXCR race series, Brown County Mountain Bike trails, Burrito (I just added that, because there is Burrito.)

Dirt.  The dirt at the Ironman is just incredible.  It has a consistency that is like peanut butter or even better like Nutella.  I think you could actually think of it as Nutella, you might as well as you are going to eat plenty of it and smash plenty of it into everything.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

My buddy Pete Emme, making his way through the epic dirt at the Ironman this year.

Hills.  I know you think Indiana is completely flat, but you would be wrong.  The hills are incredibly steep and huge.  They are hard to get up, and when there is a crowd just waiting for you to fail, it is damn intimidating.  This year, I just said I was not going to be intimidated and rode the difficult fast lines up every time.  Unfortunately, it was a hill that I was not expecting that was so difficult.  The rocky gully after Ironman hill, was slick and really difficult to get up.  I ended up upside down in that ravine twice.  It completely killed my lap times on 2 laps.  I have gone up that ravine many other years and it is never that hard – this year, it was really really tough.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

The pros are pros, and that is why they make something like Ironman hill look so easy.

Long.  I mean it is obviously long, it is a 3 hours as hard as you can race.  The loop is long as well, at approximately 13 miles.  Somewhere along the way, even though it is the most amazing event, everyone is just ready for it to be done.  You can only experience that awesomestest for so long.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Name another sporting event, that gives you this kind of access next to the course.

Epic.  If ever there was an event that was going to give you epic face, it is the Ironman GNCC.  It is just really hard to explain the grandeur of the race.  I mean holy, crap it is enormous.  You will think about it all year, and all the way home afterward.  You finish the race just knowing it was the most epic thing you have done all year, and slowly on the drive home or the next days you will start to wonder why you just could not hold your shit together long enough to have a better result.  That is the definition of epicness.

Awesome. Aweseomeness, awesomenester, awesomenestest, awesomely, awesomelier, awesomenicity, epic awseomnicity, awesomer, awesomenable, awesomeur, awesometier.

My race this year wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I was hoping for.  I feel like I have so much more speed than I show at this race.  I had a horrible start, dead last in the first turn, and then made my way all the way up to 3rd at one point in the race.  I showed the kind of speed that I know I have for the first hour of the race, but then showed the same tourist mentality for the last hour of the race that I always seem to have.  Ugh.  The podium still eludes me at the Ironman.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

Another top 5 at the Ironman, but I still cannot seem to get onto the podium. Oh well, there is another race next year.

I mark my year in terms of building to Ironman, and after Ironman.  I often wish there was more than 1 Ironman.  I always wish that every other race I am at, I was at the Ironman.  I sometimes have a hard time sleeping, as I am thinking about the Ironman.  I sometimes think that maybe I should broaden my horizons, but then I realize – nah.

It is only 363 days till the 2016 Ironman GNCC. (There is really only 1)

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

The Ironman cleanup, is not the most fun part of the event. This is 5am this morning at the carwash. Gong show.

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Day 1 at Ironman

There was Chaos today, for sure.  I mean, after all it is quad day!  Quad day is pretty special.  It has become a tradition for me.  I come down in time to see the quadners try to destroy themselves in the mud trying to get across the rivers etc…  I mean, this isn’t just your average I am out for a ride on my quad around the farm type events.  No snow plows in site.  I mean, these people actually think they are going to go fast on them.  Oh, my.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land.  Amazing.

This is the Chaos of the first stream crossing in quad land. Amazing.

I am ready for the most awesome day on a motorcycle ever tomorrow.  Stay tuned, and I will have stories.  Oh yes.

Out, Joe

4T or 2T – What is the right number?

Racing makes me feel good.

Racing makes me feel good.

I have been on a 4stroke for a while now.  It feels like home, friendly, cozy.  In reality, there are about 314 things that I really love about them, but here are a few:

–       I love the way it rides.

–       I love the way the power goes to the ground.

–       I love the way I can ride a 250F like I stole it, even when I am completely fried at the end of a GNCC I am not afraid to cane the thing.

–       I love the way it starts with the button with a tiny little Lithium battery – I do not even miss the kickstarter.

–       I love the way it goes through the air (even though I do not like going through the air very much these days).

–       I love  the way they go through whoops at speed – very straight and very easy to keep the front end from dropping into the valley of the whoop.

–       I love the fuel injection, as the “jetting” is always perfect for the weather or temperature or no matter how clogged up the air filter is.

–       I love the way you can overrev one when you come up behind someone to let them know you want to get by.

But, as good as the 4 stroke is in so many other ways, there are a few things that are not good about them.

–       The maintenance is complicated.  (I can do a top end in a 2 stroke in about 45 mins with a clean motorcycle, while eating a sandwich.)  4 stroke, not so much.

–       The maintenance is expensive – if you have one you know what I am saying.

–       They are kinda heavy feeling in a muddy race.

–       They are loud if you want them to produce power.

–       I can make a 2stroke imitation sound, but I cannot make a 4stroke imitation sound.  (BraaaaAAAaaap)

Vroom!

Vroom!

I would like to be a 2 stroke rider.  There are just a lot of really great things about a 2 stroke.

–       They are lighter, and even if they are just a couple of pounds lighter on the scale, they FEEL a ton lighter.  They just ride light.

–       They change directions easier in the woods.  If I do not like where I am riding on the trail at the moment, I feel I can just move myself to another spot on the trail.

–       I LOVE how easy they are to work on.

–       You can stand on the edge of the woods when someone is riding a 2stroke and you can barely hear it.  That helps land access issues.

–       Braaaap is great for a license plate, a shirt, a social media post, a life motto etc…

There are a few things that I do not like about 2 strokes.  What would the world be, if there weren’t a few things that I cannot rant against.

–       I really dislike mixing gas.  It feels like I am being a mad scientist (which is not all that bad, as I could grow a skullet and not feel awkward), mixing up the gas.

–       I really hate jetting.  If it was 1955, being a jetting expert would be part of man code.  It is not 1955.

–       The power hit is not linear.  Sure, you can tune the powervalve a different way, or add a flywheel weight, or modify the pipe, but it will never be the power delivery of a 4stroke.

–       The 2 stroke does not go through the whoops like a 4stroke.  It takes more skill to make it through quickly.

Braaaap!

Braaaap!

So what would the perfect bike be?  Of course I have an opinion about that also.  Beyond a burrito being the perfect food, and if you do not like IPA you are just being stupid.  I have opinions.  Things I need to share.  So here goes.  What would be the perfect bike?

– Same weight as a 2stroke.  Same feel of the weight as a 2 stroke.  Does that make it a 2 stroke?

– Linear powerband like a 4stroke. So it already comes with a flywheel weight or whatever it is that would do that, or tuning or pipe combination or modulated right wrist thingy.  Whatever would do that.

– No valves, so that it is easy to work on. (2 or 3stroke, whatever it takes).  Maybe this is the perfect time to invent the 3 stroke.

– Fuel injected, so that I would never need to think about jetting again.  After all, it is at least 1978 here in Wisconsin.  Lets move on eh?

– No kickstarter and just a button with a starter integrated into the original design like 4strokes do, so that they do not need anything more than a tiny battery.

– I need a button that makes a really loud noise when I come up behind someone so that I do not feel like a jerk yelling out at them.  But, I want the exhaust noise to be quiet like a 2stroke.

– It would make a Braaaap sound.

So there you have it KTM.  I am sure you read my blog, so can you get after it and have one of those next year – OK?

Now that ski season is over…

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

Me pretty dead after the Birkie ski race this year.

I am so ready for a 2 wheeler season to begin. It feels like it has been forever. I am really tired of looking at the world wide interwebs to get my 2wheeled fix. I do not want to watch anymore race videos from last year or youtube go pro’s of National Enduro’s that I could not go to, or great MTB trails or…  I would be happy to have just about any 2wheeler season, Bicycle, motorcycle. GNCC, MTB enduro, road cycling, local HS, local Enduro… I think you get the picture. I know my 2 wheeler friends feel exactly the same way.

This year I decided to go back to XC skiing. It has been a long long time since I was actively doing that. In fact, about 14 years had passed since I had done the Birkie ski race. That’s a long long time to be away from something, in the scheme of things. I pulled out one pair of my old skis, they had a 1998 finisher decal on the tip. Wow. (Those skis ended up being donated to bringing my daughters boyfriend into part of the ski world.  Of course I regretted that, as by the end of the season I could barely ski faster than him.  But that is another story…)

So I took the plunge and signed up for the Birkie this past fall. It had been so long since I had done the race, I would be starting in the last wave. There would be 10,000 skiers ahead of me. OMG! So I reached out to the Birkie people, “can I be in an earlier wave? I mean, I used to be in the 1st or 2nd wave!” They looked it up, and replied “Joe, that was more than 10 years ago”. Good point. In the end, they let me up to the 4th wave, and as it turns out, that is about where I belong. I am a lot slower than I was 15years ago.

I did it, and I had a grand time. Looking forward to next year when I can try to better my time. But, now that ski season is over, I am ready to break out the 2 wheelers.

First race of the year.  In our part of the world, yep - you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

First race of the year. In our part of the world, yep – you do still have snow on the ground when that happens.

As you may know, I am pretty dedicated to my 250XCF.  I feel good on it, and I really feel the power lends itself to my riding well.  I am reasonably fast, for an old guy.  Not anything like an AA rider, but fast enough.  As I say, faster than some – slower than many.  But, I dig it.

But, in spite of digging the 250XCF, I have been wanting to try a 2 stroke again for some reason.  I do not know, the sound of them when they are running well or the perception of being really light and airy, or the sexy big bulb in the pipe or… I really do not know why.  I guess it also could be that I want the simple maintenance involved.  Don’t really know.

But, I did not want to take the full plunge.  You know, get rid of my 4stroke and buy a bunch of jets and, clutch kits and throttle tubes and …. blah, blah, blah.  You know, of course all the stuff is different.  I have a garage full of stuff that is all to support the 250XCF habit.

So I thought I would try it out by buying a used 200XCW, while keeping my 250XCF.  That way, plastic and wheels and tire sizes and seats and a lot of things are shared between those bikes.

Los

Lots of moments like this on your bench when you have 2 bikes to rebuild.

First thing to note, is that 2 bikes is a lot more maintenance than 1 bike.  I have done this to myself before, and have told myself that I would not do that to myself again.  Since I was doing the experiment this season, I decided not to buy a new 250XCF.  Instead, I would rebuild my bike from last year and race it again this year.  That meant, that last years bike needed everything.  Bearings, top end for the motor, my race wheels were shot, the seat foam was gone, all the plastic needed to be binned, drive parts all needed to be replaced, all fluids needed to be flushed etc…  It was a big project.  But, when it was all done it felt like a completely new bike.  You know that feeling, as I know you have done a bike up like that as well.

The problem is that when you have 2 bikes, you are not ready for the season yet.  You have another bike to go.  One thing I have learned again, is that when you buy a used bike – you are now downstream of someone else’s maintenance habits.  Even though what I was buying was a 1 year old 2014 200XCW, it was in pretty rough shape.  Lots of bad looking stuff inside the motor, oil that was beyond disgusting, piston and head with a ton of carbon, pretty dirty power valve etc…  Those are all pretty much what you expect when you open up a motor after a year of use.  But, I did not expect the state of the rest of the bike to be so beat up.  Missing hardware holding plastic on, bad bearings, headset parts missing, jerry rigged set ups holding the odometer on and other places, leading seals etc…  The 2nd bike needed everything the first bike needed and even more.  But, after a huge refresh – that bike also feels as good as new.

The grand experiment.  A smoker in the mix.

The grand experiment. A smoker in the mix.

So, the grand experiment year starts for me.  I am planning to do a bunch of different race formats this year – GNCC, local HS, WIXC, Enduro etc…  I plan to try the new little 2stroke in each of those formats to see what I think.  I still have the 250XCF to fall back on if things are not working in one of those formats for the 2stroke.  But, I suspect in the end it has way more to do with the owner of the right wrist than it does the steed.

Here goes the season.

Joe

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

My bench has been covered with parts like this all winter.

The lists seem to go on and on...

The lists seem to go on and on…

On the gas!

On the gas!

 

2wheelers kinda run my life!

 

I think I'll go skiing.

I think I’ll go skiing.

Today, I am probably going to go skiing.  I know that sentence does not line up very well with the title of this blog entry, but bear with me through this and maybe I can make it make sense.

Winter is a thing here in Wisco.  We have winter, and it is tough to get around that.  There is snow on the ground, and the average high temperature this past week was in the single digits. It is hard to be thinking that you are going to do some sort of 2 wheeler thing in those conditions.  I did ride the trainer yesterday, but that is hard to say that you are actually on a 2 wheeler while doing that.  (You are, but the wheels are not moving so that is more like doing a track stand for an hour.)

Just a stack of tires.  Time to get the season started from Kenda!

Just a stack of tires. Time to get the season started from Kenda!

The goods from Oakley to get started prepping for the season.

The goods from Oakley to get started prepping for the season.

Yesterday I spent the day sorting gear for next season, building up 5 pair of Oakley Airbrake goggles with fresh foam, fresh lenses etc…  I inventoried all my parts and made orders for parts to get me through the season.  I pulled my suspension to send it back to Fox Suspension to have them rebuilt, and I planned the full rebuild for the 250F (frame painted, bearings, motor, new plastic, new wheels, new seat, new bars etc…)  This year I will be running the 250F for WIXC races and GNCC races.  I picked up a 2014 200XCW, and that bike will be for Enduro races and the D16 series which tends to be a bit tighter and more enduro like.  That bike will get the same treatment as the 250F and I will effectively have 2 fresh bikes for this season.

I am a list maker.  I have boards like this in my shop, in my office, cabin shop...  all over the place.

I am a list maker. I have boards like this in my shop, in my office, cabin shop… all over the place.

This is where Cross Country skiing comes in.  It gets me outside, it is an amazing workout, and it makes all the white stuff out the window useable.  But still, I do it because it ticks off the weekends towards the 2 wheeler season.

I always publish a list of 50 goals.  (Actually, that is not really true.  I create a list of 50 goals, but I only publish the non work goals.)  Most of those goals are focused around 2 wheelers.  I published the complete personal list on my other site, here I am just going to revisit the 2 wheeler list.  Here is the parts of the list that were about 2 wheelers, with gaps where the other things were.  As you can see, most involve 2 wheelers.  (Not very dynamic, I know)
3. Ride the Strade Bianche citizen race.
5. Ride Moab or Whistler or Fruita or something iconic
6. Do a MTB trip with Lloyd.
7. Learn to take tight switchback turns on my Slash. This was on my goals last year, and I failed. So…it remains.
8. Wave at all cyclists that I see.
11. Do a road bike trip. I do like riding my road bike, and more importantly it is what Liz really really likes.
12. Master small and medium double jumps on my mountain bike.
13. Learn to wheelie on both my favorite mountain bikes and my motorcycle. I have said before that this is a genetic skill. I am going to take the year and learn to wheelie, or at least just about kill myself trying. By the end of the year, I will either wheelie or it will be a lost cause.
15. Change all my mountain bikes to 1X drive systems. Time to move into 2012.
16. Ride Copper Harbor.
17. Ride at least 3 MTB Enduro races.
18. Ride a race with Noah.
19. Ride a race with Russel.
21. Ride the State Championship CX race in Wisconsin.
25. Preseason off-road training camp in late March before South Carolina GNCC
26. Ride the Loose Moose Enduro.
27. Finish on the podium at Ironman GNCC in my class. In 2011, I was 4th at Ironman GNCC, then 5th at the first Loretta’s and won the 2nd Loretta’s race. In 2012 I notched a 6th at Ironman and then 5th at Loretta’s. In 2013 I came 5th at Ironman. In 2014 I was again 4th at Ironman. Close, but not quite there.
28. Learn to use the rear brake while using the throttle on my 250F. I am still struggling with this skill. I think it is imperative for me to get this skill if I have any hope of winning a GNCC race.
29. Master flat corners on my 250F.

39. Build a little 2-stroke for tight woods races.

40. Go to a World Cup DH race.

41. Go to a World Cup XC race.
42. Go to a WEC MTB Enduro.
43. Go to Flanders and Roubaix pro races.

 

Daylight

Today there will be 9’16” of daylight where I live.  (Lake Mills, Wi.)  That isn’t very much.  Means there are actually 13’44” of darkness.  That is why we are so covered in snow, we are way north and we are tilted away from the sun.  Makes it hard to contemplate a 2 wheeler ride.

But, each day we are gaining about 1.5 mins of daylight, and tilting back towards the sun just a little bit.  By the end of the month of January, we will be gaining 2 minutes plus per day of daylight.  By the end of February, we will have 11’11” of daylight (kinda some magic right there, eh?).  Magically, on March 17, we will hit 12’01” of daylight.  Think about it – the halfway point.  Just as much daylight as darkness for the day.

That has to equal some sort of 2wheeler celebration On March 17.  I think I will go ski now and contemplate that.

That right there is some good stuff.

That right there is some good stuff.

 

 

 

Another Ironman has passed – Sigh. God I love that race.

Molding clay.  
Putty.  
Peanut butter.  
Nutella.  
Playdoh.  
Really thick cake batter.
What exactly is that dirt made out of?

Crawfordsville dirt.  Like no other dirt.

Crawfordsville dirt. Like no other dirt.

None of those things truly do the dirt at Ironman justice. They are all sort of like the dirt in some way, but also different. The dirt curls, it pushes up in ridges, it folds, it ruts and climbs and descends and does things that dirt normally just does not do. It is almost like it is alive, sort of moving and being all by itself. It is kinda like the water in that movie called the Abyss. It lives..

I do really know how to describe it in any other way, but the dirt at Ironman. OMG! It is like no other dirt. I have not found dirt like that anywhere else in the world.

Every year I go to the Ironman, and every year the day before while walking around the course I kinda feel like “I am over this place..” The crowds, the dust, the river crossings, the hills, the way you know your motorcycle will just be trashed. It really becomes sort of a ughex this is not going to go well.

Then after the race I find myself grinning ear to ear and just personally oophed over just everything about it. The hills, the dirt the water, the chaos and crowds everywhere. I cannot wait till next year already.

When the tennseconds note came out of Rodney, I was still in my “over it” phase. I was wondering what I was doing there. Why wasn’t I up in Hayward with Liz riding my MTB, throwing the ball with Marty and wrestling with Stella. I could be doing a cyclocross race… hmmm. That is not the way to start a race. When the flag went up, I shot forward, but then quickly got shuffled back to about 10th when we entered the woods. I rode stiff and my legs were cramping and I dropped my pacifier in the spokes and I think I must have lost my blanky or something.

So, I had a little talk with myself. My manly self talked to my currently operating as a bit of a Larry inside a motorcycle racers helmet and I think there was a bit of woodshed discussion. It probably involved some real choice and direct conversation. I kinda imagine it going something like this.

“Are you happy over there with all the covers?”, manly self.

“I am a little bit cold”, namby self.

“Would you like me to get you some Kleenex? Looks like your eyes are watering or you have the sniffles.”

“Are you threatening me?”

“Man up, tuck your skirt in and get after it, would you? Or, do I have to forbid you from racing a dirt bike? If you expect that Liz is going to let you keep racing that thing, or hang out with her on a mountain bike trail, you had better figure it out, and fast!”

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have.  "Hey, the race is over here buddy!"

I am not sure if I was looking for worms at that moment or what, but it is the only action shot I have. “Hey, the race is over here buddy!”

At that point manly me took over and I stopped being such a wuss. I took a deep breath and headed forward. At the end of the 1st lap, I was in 9th. A lap later, I was in 7th, then 5th, then 4th, then 3rd. Unfortunately, I ran into a tree that really wanted to debate with me about things. It reached out and grabbed me and threw me to the ground. I think it even put its foot on my neck. I was tangled up there for some time, and it took me quite some time to get going again. The right side shroud was flapping in the breeze and my bike felt a little bit crooked. That is the kind of thing that bothers you for a minute, but then you move past it.

I stopped for gas before the last lap, and we were going to try to zipty the shroud back down. After playing around with that, we just grabbed it and ripped it off the bike, leaving the bare tank exposed. I went to blast off then, but then realized that I did not have my goggles back on. Ugh, a very poorly executed pit stop on my part for sure. Through all of this, Ryan was saying “you are only 13 seconds out of 3rd”. Which meant that I knew who the guy was. I had passed him earlier and then he went by me while I was riding like a pud after the tree debate. I thought, “I know who that guy is.”

In the end, he held me off as I never was able to get myself truly back up to the pace I was going before. I am ok with 4th out of 24 in my class at the Ironman. It is a 3hr race, and I am probably the oldest guy in the class by a long shot.

Results.  4th out of 24 isn't so bad.

Results. 4th out of 24 isn’t so bad.

As Chris Bach said to me afterward. “What the hell happened to you? I saw you once and your shroud was flapping out in the breeze and then I saw you later and you had no shroud on – just naked bike.” Yep, I ended up finishing the ride with no shroud on the right side of the bike. That really doesn’t work very well. My knee brace catches on the gas tank and the radiator. Not nice.

My racing is a work in progress for sure. Some days I am physically not there, and then all of a sudden one day it is a mental issue. I guess when I truly have it all figured out, I should stop. Until then, I will keep at it.

It is only 364 days until the Ironman GNCC race 2015. I cannot wait.

The usual post GNCC cleanup.  Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart.  I guess there is something good about winter.

The usual post GNCC cleanup. Missing plastic, bent parts, it all needs to come apart. I guess there is something good about winter.

Till next year now.

Till next year now.

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Pete's photo of the trail.  It is going to be dusty and rough.

Next years GNCC license already purchased.  (Don’t tell Liz.)

So nice you have to say it more than once. In fact you have to say it more than just a couple of times. I do not feel I need to bite the head off any mammals though. Although there are other times…

Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman! Ironman!

Make you feel like you are in a Beatlejuice movie. (Aren’t they about to make number 7, or is this dehydrated breakfast cereal hour?)

1902014_4615592964174_7845378033618592714_n

Pete’s photo of the trail. It is going to get rough and dusty.

So we are on the way to the place, the place where it all began. All of this madness of GNCC racing really started for me at the Ironman! It is the granddaddy of epic motorcycle races for me. I remember it leading to a conversation between Scott and I about us giving it a try. I had visions of huge crowds and huge mud and huge hills. All of that was based on my experience here in Crawfordsville.

In the end, a knee surgery and a few other things conspired to make that full GNCC season not as successful as I had hoped, but I have gone back every year since trying to hit that elusive successful day at the Ironman. I have had reasonable days there to horrible days. I have never had the breakout success day there that I have been chasing. I have every reason to feel that this will be the year, after a really successful kcal year. But, the mud, the crowds of riders and the hills await to decide my fate. I am kinda philosophical about it now, yet still prepared and hopeful.

I usually say that Ironman weekend is the best and worst of the year. It is the best because it is the absolute best race of the year. It is better than any local race and it is the best of the GNCC races. The dirt is incredible, the loop is more than 14 miles long, it is a huge event, it has more than 500 motorcycles on the course at once etc… But, it also signifies the end of the summer and winter is coming.

So very true.

Well, there is beer after all.

Looks like it is going to be a dusty Ironman.  Wet from the river and through the dust equals a layer of filth at the end.  I cannot wait for tomorrow.

We are finally racing! – Finally.

After the longest winter known in the history of the universe, we are finally racing.  Seriously, the winter was at least 710 and 1/2 days long.  It is still not exactly warm out, but at least there is no snow on the ground.  Bonus though, no mozzies.  (So we have that going for us.)

100% Nouget

100% Nougat

I have tried to get after some racing by getting in the truck and driving somewhere, but it just was not working.  I went down to NC to maybe do the GNCC race, but decided against it because of the mud.  A long time ago, after many a horrible GNCC mud race, I had said that if I got to the parking lot of a GNCC and it was a gong show – I was going to turn around and go home.  So, I did. I know, what a wuss.  Yep.  I am.  Tired of trashing my gear, so you know.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

It was a gong show, so I did not.

WIXC race – Hillpoint. Ugh.  I have been fighting off a bad head/chest cold.  I kinda felt like I had kicked  it, but when race time came I could not breathe.  Physically I felt ok, trained and prepared, but breathing is pretty necessary.  I was ok for the first lap, but when I tumbled and had to get myself going again I just could not calm my heart rate down and make myself go.  Took me a long long time to be able to focus and breathe and ride hard. On top of that, I was kinda not able to focus on the trail.  I would not say my vision was blurred, but I would say my balance was awkward.  So, Pete got away from me right away in the race and I never really was able to put much of a charge together to try to track him down.  He deserved to win.  He rode well and has battled to come back this fast from some pretty serious health problems.  I am glad he did well.

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I think this was probably in the first lap or 2, before it rained in earnest and when I was still riding decently. (That will end – ha.)

After the race, there was a lot of cleanup.  Although the video doesn’t really do the muck justice.  Trust me, it was pretty bad. Chain is gone.  Tires are gone. Grips are gone.  Graphics are gone.  Brake pads are gone.  Clutch is gone.  Ugh…

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/91879541″>Cleanup after Hillpoint</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user2916719″>joe vadeboncoeur</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p> At least we are racing! Joe Out

I might be old, but I am not left handed!

For the last few periods of hours, I have considered myself to be a descendant of kings. So tall I have been, that I have actually consumed an inordinate amount of #joetmeal. While that probably seems unlikely and surprising to you, I find it curious at best, concerning at worst. After all, what would a man with a yellow shirt say?

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There I am. Old, beard and all. I am looking kinda tired there, but in reality I feel great it is just a crummy photo. But, I did make it all the way through November with the beard thing. Ha.

No, I have always been known to favor the oatmeal (when is that national oatmeal day anyway?), but of late my age has been catching me out, I do not feel old but I mean I have a completely grey beard after all. So fettered with oatmeal dreams have been I that I have engaged the services of not one, but 2 trainers to help me beef up (although, I am not sure how beef would taste in my oatmeal). You see, I a have a goal of being the fastest old guy alive – not dead, but alive. (And yes, dead or alive would be something completely different, do not call me Rosanna) .

I have worked with Mary Grinacker with Up and Over fitness for some time. She helped Scott and I win/dominate/rule the world at the 24hours of Perry Mountain-ness. Back then, we needed to make sure we could go at it for 24hours. And yes I do mean IT. Nod nod, wink wink. It worked, as we surprised the factory teams and won the duo team race outright.

Our season goals are a bit different now, win the local series and get on the podium at the Ironman GNCC. Those local races are about speed. They are just 2hours long and you have to lay it down hard and fast at the beginning of the race. A GNCC race is no different in that respect, just 3 hours of laying it down hard. Either way, speed and strength are what these races are all about.

So with that, Mary said, and I quote.

PREPARATION PHASE – PRE SEASON
November / December /January
Approximately 10 weeks

Emphasis: Get STRONG. Hypertrophy. 3-4 sets of up to 15 reps.
(45-50 seconds)
Actually build some Bulk! Feel PUMPED up!
Dumb bells, Kettle Bells, Free Weights. Or Mary Circuit.
3 days a week.

Build ENORMOUS Aerobic Base. Need to do long rides and
long rows at BELOW anaerobic threshold. If AT = 165,
Need to keep Heart Rate at or below 155. Talking pace!

(Seriously, that is what the plan said that she gave to me)

At the same time, I have been going to Pats Gym once per week for the past year or 2. Pat, is amazing. He has muscles on his muscles. He can do a Turkish Get Up with a person above his head, don’t believe me check it below.

Pat, out of the goodness of his heart (that and that I basically funded the expansion of his gym based on my whole family frequenting his place), detailed the first period even further for me.

Strength Phase Month 1

Monday 12/2
Warm Up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat 
5×5 single leg squat @ 18-20” box
Work
Six way bb complex: 
6x deadlift + 6x bent-over row (back parallel to floor) + 6x hang clean + 
6x front squat + 6x push press + 6x back squat + 6x push-up
Do these all in a row without letting go of the bar. Rest 1-2 minutes. Do 3-4 sets. Increase weight on bar with each series, i.e. 75#-85#-95#-105#. Adjust weight accordingly
5×3 deadlift @ 80% 1rm 
Rest 3-4 minutes between sets  
1000m row for time

Tuesday 12/3
Pat’s gym workout

Wednesday 12/4
Mary’s class
Plus 60-90 minute row or bike @ easy pace

Thursday 12/5
Recovery
100x tgu @ 15# db (Yes as absurd as that sounds, 100 turkish get ups is considered a recovery workout)

Friday 12/6
Warm up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat @ 25# 

Work
Clean + front squat + hang clean: 
One triplet every 30 seconds for 10 minutes IE. 20 total triplets, use 75# – 135#  
10x pull-up + 20x kb swing @ 53# + 30x box jump @ 24″ box + 40x push-up + 50x sit-up + 60x burpee + 10x pull-ups
4x (30sec work/30sec “rest”) push press @ 2 x 15# db.
“rest” is in oh position. Aim for 25 reps per round. 
3×10 straight leg deadlift @ 95-135# 
5×2 single leg deadlifts @ 95-135# (2 each side)

Saturday
Warm up
2×5 wall squat 
2×10 squat 
2×5 goblet squat @ 25# 
Work – Dumbbell complex (standard): 
6x hi-pull + 
6x bent-over row + 
6x hang clean + 
6x front squat push press + 
6x ohs & sots press combo + 
6x push-up & one-arm row
Three sets, completed with 20-25# dumbbells  
Ball slam @ 25# + kb step-up @ 2x 25# kb (in rack position) onto 20” box
30-20-10 reps of each
4x (20sec work/10sec rest) row @ >100m per interval pace
2-3 total blocks, rest 2-3 minutes between each

Sunday
90-120 minute hike (preferably with elevation gain) @ 20-30# pack, or bike for 2 hours

And it goes on…you get the picture. If this does not cure my possible left handed tendencies, I do not know if anything can. Maybe a good strong IPA…hmmm. If nothing else, it should cure the old age piece.  I mean holy shit, that is some hard stuff.

Those youngsters will not even see me coming. Fastest old man alive!

Surrender Dorothy.

Joe

How rough can it be?

The aftermath.  As usual, after a GNCC.  Bike is pretty roached.  But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

The aftermath. As usual, after a GNCC. Bike is pretty roached. But, I have seen them alot worse than this before.

It is rough.  How rough you ask?  Check this photo, that is Scott’s rear sprocket which is supposed to be attached to the rear hub.  It is not.  That is how rough it is.  Check here for Scott’s complete story.

Arriving.  Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Arriving. Look into the distance, and you can see the hoopla building.

Well, it is a little bit like running a jack hammer for 3 hours, but stopping and throwing yourself on the ground onto your kidneys 8-10 times during that 3 hours.  Oh, do not forget to smash parts of your body while doing the jack hammering also.  And for grins peg your heart rate at about 130 for the 3 hours.  Lots of people say to me “aren’t you just sitting there and turning the throttle?”

So, how did my race come down?  Well… not great.  In fact, I rode like shit. This year, my schedule conspired against me, and I was crazy busy for the month before the race.  2 weeks in Europe, a couple of USA trips, bad weather on the weekends that I was home, trying Cyclcoross racing had me focused on other things… blah, blah, blah.  Not much of an excuse, I admit.  But, somehow it all conspired against my fitness.  Lack of preparation for Ironman does not really work.  You cannot hide from Ironman GNCC.

Check the crowd at the morning race.  It is big.

Check the crowd at the morning race. It is big.

Before the race, I told my friends from Wisconsin, who were doing their first 3 hour GNCC race.   “Have a safe calm 1st lap. Ride within yourself. Choose your lines carefully on the big hills and mud holes. Then race once you understand the flow. You cannot win the race in the first lap, but you can kill your race…” Then I promptly went out and rode like an idiot for the first lap.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

That is deep cold water that we have to go through about 5 times during the race.

I got a mediocre start, but then did not ride aggressively enough in the first part of the lap and lost a couple of places. I realized quickly that I was being a pud and started to push really hard.  That led me to 5 crashes on 1st lap. Including tumbling back down steep hill before Moto track, flying over a log and landing right on another bike, getting stuck trying to get through 1 of the 3 river crossings… I was trying way too hard and was completely out of sync with bike due to no time on it the prior month.  Meanwhile, of course the front of the race is going away from me.

I settled down in middle of the race, then made my way to 4th on track and was pretty comfortable there. But, in the last lap I made more errors.  I love my bike, and one of the things that I love about it is that it doesn’t consume alot of fuel.  But, the fuel light came on early in last lap before Ironman hill (which is less than halfway around the lap). I babied it for that lap and tried not to rev the bike too high, that resulted in loosing 4th and battling with the 5th place guy.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning.  Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

The kids always have to race in the cold early in the morning. Check the long shadows and jackets on the kids.

We were pitted in the XC2 pits, which were quite a ways before the XC1 pits.  In my head, I thought we had to do a bunch of the lap after the XC2 pits and then go through the XC1 pits before the finish.  Stopped at my pits to get splash of fuel, fell back to 6th.  I made that decision because I thought I could get them both back with 1/2 lap, but stupidly only had 2 turns to finish.

So summary is.
– out of shape
– out of sync with my bike after no riding for a month
– no pit crew to help advise me during race
– boneheaded decisions early in the race and at the end of the race.

When I won Loretta, I raced all the way up to it, had a pit crew to help me, and didn’t make boneheaded mistakes.

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race.  What is up with that?

One of the many steep hills that I struggled to get up during the race. What is up with that?

Congratulations to Pete Emme, James Voeks, Karl Lueschow.  They all had great races.  Pete finished 4th overall, Karl in 8th, James in 10th.  Proud of all of those guys, love racing with them all year long.

I’m a dumbass. I hate ending the season that way. I wish there was more racing. I have the speed to do well in that race, but I got way ahead of myself. That will not happen again. Next year I will show up prepared and with help in pits.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

After the race, even things like your hands just hurt.

Once again the podium eludes me at the Ironman.  I LOVE to race my motorcycle, and I just cannot wait until next year.  I am making the Ironman a major goal for me for next year.  Once our local season is over, I will go on the road and race every weekend before Ironman.

Probably the last race in these colors.  Stay tuned for a future look.

Probably the last race in these colors. Stay tuned for a future look.

A clue to the future look in this.

A clue to the future look in this.

If Only I Had A Bat!

Wait... Off in the distance...  I think it is coming.  It is really huge... It is IRONMAN!!!!

Wait… Off in the distance… I think it is coming. I think it is really really huge!  Really huge… It is IRONMAN!!!!

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We’ll just pass him there
why should we even care?

He was turned to steel
in the great magnetic field
When he travelled time
for the future of mankind

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
that he will soon unfurl

It is a madhouse out there.  Madhouse.

It is a madhouse out there. Madhouse.

Now the time is here
for Iron Man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved

Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge

Heavy boots of lead
fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron Man lives again!

Kinda makes you want to bite a bats head off.  Actually, it really just pisses you off.  To the point that you need to shred a dirt bike.  I know that I have felt like I have boots of lead after the race.  I trust I will again tomorrow.  God this is great stuff.

In the end, it comes around every year.  Just cannot get enough of it.

Let’s do Ironman!

Drowning Quads... Our fate tomorrow!

Drowning Quads… Our fate tomorrow!

Here We Go!

Here We Go!

What is it about Indiana and Confederate flags?

What was I thinking?

Pre-race beauties.

I’ve spent a lot of time dwelling on the GNCC Ironman race I did last Sunday.

It was muddy.  Joe and I rode bicycles around the easily accessible places before the race and could see that everything that we near the rivers and creeks was soggy and rutted. The trail that weaved through the woods had heavy clay-walled troughs.  After our recon I decided that a cautious approach to every trail problem was my best option. Even if I wasted time by stopping to assess options during the race that would be better than digging out or picking myself up after rushing in. The track map is posted here.

The trail is over by the trees but I rode through here during the race. What was I thinking?

I got an average start and entered the woods in 4th place.  I consciously held back and was deliberate with my line selection and tried hard to block out the riders around me in those early minutes. But like an amateur I started up one hill way too tentatively and lost momentum halfway up.  I snapped back to race mode and helplessly watched riders pass me one at a time.  Then the same thing happened on the next big hill.  I was loosing time and confidence by the mile and it was still only the opening lap.

I came around to the scoring tent in 4th still. I didn’t expect that but I tried to keep things in check and returned to thinking and riding conservatively.  I remember feeling fatigued really early on.  The mud was so thick and persuasive.  When I got tired it was hard to keep my balance and I’d simply tip over because my reactions were too slow.  Getting back going again winded me a few times and I’d lose even more time while I pinged my way down the trail getting my breath back.  But I didn’t do anything as dramatic as this on Ironman hill.

It’s always amazing to me how much goes on during a 3-hour race, most of which I’d forgotten about.  There was a guy I passed in my class with no goggles and I thought, “keep it steady and put time on him – he can’t see,” yet he and I passed each other back and forth several times.  And I must have been hit by something during the race because my backside hurts.  My shin has a big scrape on it yet I don’t know what hit it.  My side panel was barely hanging on but I don’t remember it flapping while I raced.

At the end of lap 4 I was shown the the 2 laps to go board.  I remember trying to think positive about that.  The race had felt really long to me so it was difficult to feel good when I told myself, “only 2 to go, you can do it!” Luckily (and embarrassingly) my 5th lap was so slow that I only did one more lap before finishing the race.  I ended up 3rd in the Senior A class and 67th overall.  Those numbers aren’t too bad but when I looked at my lap times I wasn’t too impressed with myself.  I was over 12 minutes down on the winner in my class and losing 12 minutes per lap to the XC1 and XC2 class leaders.  I can’t expect to ride anywhere near as fast as the pros but losing that much time per lap is pathetic.

Ok.  So what to do, if anything.  Am I just too old and worn out to demand more of myself?  Am I sick or burned out and that keeps me from doing better? Did everyone else suddenly find another gear and I’m already topped out? Or, did I simply miss the mark fitness-wise and talk myself out of a decent result by letting early race mistakes bog me down?  I think it’s a little of all this and more.  Time to take some time off.

Another thing that stuck with me again this year was the parking lot chaos.  The wail of V8 engines, plumes of diesel exhaust, and stench of burned-up catalytic converters were abundant because the much and mire filled every parking lot.  With 12,000 spectators on hand there were lots cars and trucks that needed help getting out.

One of the crazy things about our racing is how Joe and I often talk about what we’ll do at next year’s Ironman.  That was on the drive home. We’re demented, I know.

Wasted.

Let’s do Ironman – Que the Black Sabbath here.

Just so everyone is aware, this weekend is the Ironman GNCC.  It is the race of races.  There is no better, even if there is a reset (Pete).  If your friends are getting married and they get married on Ironman weekend, they are not really friends (Matt).  If you get a new bike and you think you are not ready to race at Ironman, so you race a dorky local Hare Scrambles, it is just that – dorky (Joe).  If you come up with just about any other excuse to not race, you are just making excuses.  Get to the Ironman, if you do you will never not want to go back.

Here are some teasers.

2011

2010 – dust bowl year

My 2011 video (apologies, we were on Suzuki’s then)

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Indiana – where racing happens.

Joe

Indiana, where racing happens.

This weekend was a dub-tastic race weekend. 2 races, both in Indiana. Next weekend is another Indiana race weekend with the Ironman GNCC. Indiana is the center of the racing universe (Chris Bach will be happy I said that). I have now seen what he has been talking about with the MAXC race series. Very GNCC like. 250 riders on the line, 9 mile course, feels alot like a GNCC. (Ok Chris, you can stop saying I told you so…). After the MAXC race, I joined my friend Noah Mitchel at the National Enduro, in Matthews Indiana. Noah was our mechanic for the PM24 race, and is one of my absolute heroes. And, on top of all of that Liz went down with me along with Stella.

We had to sneak Stella in to 2 Holiday Inn hotels on the weekend. Lol. Poodle in the house. BTW, Stella is way tougher looking than Bach’s little dog Addison. Kinda silly, debating is a 14 pound dog tougher looking than a 4lb dog. In the end, neither of them is tough because Adam Bonneur has a dog named Wolf. (now that is tough).

I find that all dogs deep down inside don’t really like the names that humans give them. Most male dogs want to be called Hank, and female dogs want to be called Luna. (Stella is kinda pissed that Luna Lovegood is getting all the credit for the name.)

Odd that penguin being there.

Saturday-Day1

The MAXC race was a hoot. 250 people on the line, 13 rows on the start line, about 12-25 in a class, 9 mile course, swoopy fun. I will definately be making more of these next year. Below is not the video from our race, but gives you a feel for how the races are. Great.

For our race, it was in Culver In. That is north of Indianapolis, just 4 hours from my house. Perfect. It is alot of sand. I like sand, at least I think I do. It was sprinkling at the start. I should have planned better, but I did not think it would get bad. Little did I know. It started off sprinkling, and the sprinkle turned to rain, which turned to the heavens opening up and prompting a few people to stop and start building the arc. I am talking Unadilla 2008, John Penton 2010 kind of rain. Yowza. Rivers running down the trail, you cannot get out of the rut kinda rain.

I had a good race. Crappy start, but good race. I cannot get off the line. I hit the 1st turn in 9th or 10th. I could see the guy with the ISDE helmet get off the line 1st and could see him pulling away before we even got into the woods. damn. I had work to do. Took me about 1/2 of the first lap to get past the last few guys and go hunting. The ISDE helmet guy was really fast. I think he lost his goggles in the rain earlier than me, and that is the only real reason that I caught him. I did manage to get past him and start the last lap in 1st, but once my goggles went away I turned into an absolute tourist. (I really really suck when my vision goes.) In the end, I finished 2nd, and was really happy with that.

Yuck. That is going to need to be cleaned up.

Chris Bach won, Rory Mead 2nd. At least that is what I think happened. When they came by me late in the race, that was the order they were in. Holy crap they are fast.

Sunday Sunday Sunday!! (I always want to say that.) – Day 2

After the race on Saturday, Liz and I loaded all up and hit the car wash. Had to be done. Bike and boots, and everything else was corked. It was all so bad that it was disgusting. Couple of dollars at the car wash, and ready to go. It was not a full on, make it pretty and I will be proud of it, but clean enough so that I could change the air filter and check to see if the brake pads needed replacing.

On the way to the Enduro, I noticed an ark being built and a bunch of weird animals.

The Indiana National Enduro is held near the Cumberland covered bridge. A pretty cool sight, given that it was built in 1857, but this historical blog entry will have to wait.

Noah has been wanting to do this enduro together for a long time. It sounded like fun, and it was. But, I am not an enduro guy. I kinda like a start line and a finish line and a little more flowy trail in front of me. Enduros tend to be more about hard man conditions and technical difficulty. I guess I am not that guy. Turned out that Noah is that kinda guy. He smoked me. Good on you Noah. I’ll do another with him, because it is just fun to hang with guys and I do not get to see Noah that much, but it is definitely not my kinda race.

The race advertised 70 miles of trail, but that was probably exaggerated as there was certainly 15miles of paved road in there also (sometimes as part of the timed section, but normally just part of the transfers). There were a few sections that were really fun, but most of it was tighter than my liking and alot of it was certainly way wetter than I like. There were a few times I was completely stuck in the mud and more than once that I could not get any traction on an uphill.

In the end, the race took about 5 hours for us. 5 hours on a motorcycle is always a good thing. Sneaking dogs into the Holiday Inn is also a good thing. I guess that makes it an all around good time.

This coming weekend is the biggie, the one that started it all. The Ironman GNCC. The worlds greatest race. It is also another trip to Indiana. Hoping for another great race there.

Indiana, where racing happens.

Out,
Joe

Ouch. That is going to leave a mark. Day 1 night, getting ready for the next day.

I want to go faster! – What’s that saying about Old Dogs?

I want to go faster!

I do. I really do. I am old, but I can still learn to do that. Someone else, not me said that an old dog cannot learn new tricks.  I do not think that is true.  I learned something a few weeks ago when my bike would not run.  I learned a password for a website the other day.  I learned how to use my iphone.  I am convinced that I can learn to go faster still.

Lots of people have pitched in with that effort.  My teammate Scott is always willing to help, but he has his own challenges that he is focusing on.  My friend Pete has been trying to help me, hold your elbows higher, push your outside knee in… Rick Anschutz has been trying to help me with that, use your front brake.  Jim Freibel is always telling me body position, don’t look behind you… I am always reminding myself to look up the trail and up through the turn.  Me is just not listening to all those people.  I need someone to whip me into shape.

So, I decided to give a Dirtwise school by Shane Watts a try.  Pete organized Shane to come out and put on a 2 day riding school on his property.  Actually it is owned by a friend of his, who doesn’t mind a bunch of dirt bikes on his property.  Only and hour from my house, and one of the sweetest pieces of property anywhere.

Day 1

That is me on the warmup laps in the morning, just getting started. That form better be a lot better by the end of this.

I am sitting at my kitchen counter after day one, a bit on the tired and sore side.  Shane strategy is to take everyone back to square one and build on that.  Tear away everyone’s bad habits and build up from there.  I promise you I have lots of bad habits.

You start with a simple drill that Shane calls the slow technique.  It literally is just that.  Creeping across a field, standing up, going as slow as you can.  You cannot sit down, you cannot put your foot down.  You apply the rear brake, you use the throttle, you modulate the clutch.  Go as slow as you can, stopping and balancing, putting the brake and the motor against each other, using the clutch to keep the motor running and creep along.  That one really teaches you to control all of those things.

Shane’s technique is to show you a demonstration.  Then you do the exercise for 10 mins, he stops you and tells you what to try to work on, then you do it 10 more mins, then he stops you and tells you what to try, then you do it for 10 more mins, and on and on.

Then we worked on drag race starts.  Going smoothly through the gears, keeping your weight forward at the start and then back to get traction etc…  Over and over.

Then we worked on stoppies.  Teaching us how to trust the front brake.

Then we worked on going across the field with the front wheel locked.  Then we had to start across the drag race course, brake at the braking point and come to a stop as fast as we could.  Then we worked on going around and around in circles, both directions (a flat turn, around a square on the ground).  We went round and round so much, I got dizzy.  Then we worked on an oval turn track that had flat turns and a straight.  Shane would stand at the turn at the point that you were allowed to sit down after braking.

Brilliant stuff.  It really is amazing what a day of basics and drills over and over can do for you.  We started riding at 8:30 in the morning.  Stopped for 45 mins for lunch, then rode till after 5pm.  Holy crap, more than 8 hours of riding.

Tomorrow is more drills and we will start to work on applying all of this to a trail.  I am really looking forward to it.

Perfect Group size.

Scott in the morning.

Shane showing us how it is done.

Lunch time. Perfect day.

Day 2 – 8am start

It rained overnight.  Unbelievable.  It has hardly rained at all the entire year.  Somehow the gods want me to get all I can out of this class.  Not really a thumping down rain, but just enough that the soil is amazing. Lots of great stuff on tap today.

We started the day back on the small 40 foot circles again. But this time since the rain, they are slick.  It works out well.  The goal is to go all the way around the circle in a slide.  I cannot do it.  I can get about halfway round in a slide, but cannot really get it go all the way around.  I need to work on that.

Then we set up the cones in rows with the cones about 30 feet apart on the row, and the rows about 60 feet apart.  You zig zag back and forth and slide the back end with the brake around the turn, then rocket back toward the other side.  This one I can do, but not perfectly.  I get it right 75% of the time, but still miss it at others.

Next up was grinding down a log laying down on the ground.  Grinding, meaning one wheel on each side of the log so that you are traveling down the length of the log, but your bike is going sideways.  Great trail skill for when your wheels are not following one another.  Keep the gas on, stand up and balance the bike.  I can do this.

Next up was a corner rut.  Brake into the turn, peg the front wheel down into the bottom of the rut/berm, get your foot out and get on the gas.  I have included a video of Shane doing it first then me doing it both directions.

The last thing we worked on was getting over a big big obstacle.  We used a log that was down, that was at least 3 feet around.  It was like getting over a culvert or something like that.  Wheelie up on, unload the rear suspension to where you were just perched up on top.  Then just slide off the back side. Easy as that. But the number of people laying in a heap on the other side was impressive.

All in all, it was a very worthwhile experience.  Funny how everything always comes back to the fundamentals.  In the case of riding a motorcycle in the woods – balance, throttle brake and clutch control, body position, confidence or commitment.

I learned that I train all wrong.   I should be doing more drills and more sprints.  I tend to just go out and ride at what I hope is race pace for hours.  I should be doing skills drills interspersed with sprint laps.  Still probably spend a bunch of time at a riding area while doing it, but just not banging out laps reinforcing the same bad habits.

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks. Shane teaching us how to do a rutted out turn.

out,

Joe

How hard is #PM24?

Just how hard is that race Joe?  I know you are asking that, so I am going to try to answer it.

Racing is hard.  It always hurts and always has it’s trials and tribulations.  But how do you compare races?  I have decided that the way to measure that difficulty is a combination of just how hard is the race, and just how much preparation do you have to do for the race.  It has been decided that from here forward, that is the official difficulty rating of races.

So, in the scheme of things:  The Tour de France is just about the most difficult race out there.  It is physically really hard and it takes a years worth of individual preparation and team preparation to be competitive.  There are 9 riders to be trained properly, a team to be organized and financed, tactics to be coordinated and staff of 15 at the race and another 15 at home.

But, in our world of motorcycle racing, the following chart is the official difficulty rating of the kind of races we all do.

Perry Mountain graph

How much prep did we do?  Take a look here, and you will get a feeling for it.  Alot.  How physical was it?  It was 24hours, duh. I am still recovering.  Will race the first local race since the 24hr tomorrow.  We will see how that goes.  It is hard to go fast after a 24hour race going at 85-90% pace.

In the end, I am proud of our efforts and achievement.  Would we do it again?  Give it some time, and we will answer.

Joe

If that was a REAL harescrambles – Holy Crap!

Took us a while to find this parking space. Isn’t it perfect?  Look, the van matches the bike graphics!

This past Sunday was the 1st D16 harescrambles race here in Wisconsin.  It was a doozy…  Pete Laubmeier said “This is the way REAL harescrambles used to be.”  I do not know about that, but he was right that after about 35 log crossings, I was definitely cussing Pete and Bob Kau.  (I suspect that this is what I deserve for calling Bob a crusty old guy with a beer in his hand.)

Scott and I arrived early as we normally do.  We parked up the van, registered, then headed out for a course walk.  All we could do was gush about the course.  A bunch of fresh trail, what looked like good dirt, but – a ton of logs down and buried in the grass.  Hidden, lying in wait and just ready to grab your front wheel and slam you to the ground, where you will lie there wondering what in the hell just happened to me?

Lots of virgin trail cut through the woods.

The course was about 8 miles around.  It had some great dirt in the trees, used a couple of old cranberry bogs which were totally beach sand, then had about 4 miles of virgin trail in the sort of open woods that were part of where a tornado had a few years prior ripped through the woods.  Lots of logs down at a pile of toothpicks crazy angles.  It must have been a hell of a tornado.  Pete and Bob had chopped their way through a bunch of the trees that were down, but left a bunch strategically as well.  A LOT of bunch.

I am on a new plan for this year.  Even though I am 51 years old, I have decided that I am going to try for this year to race with the kids.  I signed up for the Open A class, which pretty much commits me for the season.  I am generally more than twice the age of the rest of the field.  It will be fun.  I probably will not win much, but I hopefully will get faster and faster and closer to the front during the course of the season.

This is going to be a mess once the race starts.

The course was crazy tough.  I did not expect it was going to be that tough.  The log crossings were pretty rough.  On top of that, there were more than 3 really bad muddy spots on the course.  It was pretty dry most places, but I of course managed to get completely stuck in the mud on 3 occasions.

How does that happen?  Stuck in the mud at a dust race.

So I consider myself pretty experienced at this harescrambles racing thing.  I learned a long time ago that you do not get into a rut.  Shit happens though.  You make mistakes as a rider.  I can understand getting stuck once, there is bad luck,  but stuck 3 times is just stupid.  I am not talking just a bit stuck also.  I am talking stuck above the back tire depth.  Stuck so that you have to put the motorcycle up on its back wheel, then push it over sideways – just to get it out of the rut.  3times!!!

So, this was not my best effort.  I have ridden better than that.  It only get’s better from here.

I can hear Pete yelling at me already!  “Get your skirt out of the chain and learn to ride, you pussy”.

Out,

Joe

Hurry! Hurry! Time is running out! Perry Mountain is just 38 days away!

Yikes!  I just cannot count that fast!  Seems like just yesterday it was only 39 days away.  Don’t worry, if you cannot count that fast, the Perry Mountain website is counting for you.

I feel a little like Janet’s boyfriend Brad here.  My world has been invaded by a bunch of weird acting musical dancers.  I am waking up in a time warp.  We are just 38 days out!  I cannot get fit enough in 38 days! OMG!

There is training to be done.  Long bike rides, gym time, riding at night, getting my lights sorted, amassing gear, plane tickets for crew, the RV, trailer, van etc…  Yikes!

No more time to write.  I need to get after things.

Here is a video of last years lap of the course.

Out,

Joe

 

Why Is That Clock Moving So Slowly?

It is the 4th day of March.  March is an interminable month.

in·ter·mi·na·ble

Adjective:
1.  Incapable of being terminated; unending                                                                     2.  Monotonously or annoyingly protracted or continued; unceasing; incessant.                                                                                                                              3.  Having no limits.

Origin:
1325–75; Middle English  (That means it is from the Middle Earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy – we all know that went on for too long.) 

I particularly like the use of the word “unceasing”.  That pretty much sums it up.  Unceasing.  You wake up and it is still winter.  It has snowed again.  The nice days only come during the week, it rains or snows on the weekend.  You clean the bike and redo the decals – again.  Unceasing.

Continue reading

It’s Not Just Riding, But It’s Awesome!

IT, is being out of Wisco when it is cold there and snowing.

It finally turned to winter at home. I saw it coming, so I got the hell out of there. Cannot really say I have anything good to say about winter these days. Everyone out there should realize that snow and ice are actually water in a few of its various frozen states. I don’t want to go all science on everyone, but in order for water to get into that state the temperature has to be below freezing. WTF?

We are going to dominate this trail.

So Arizona it was. Pretty much certain that it wasn’t going to freezing water and slapping that stuff down on me there. Loaded up the family, mountain bike stuff and supercross watching paraphernalia and headed to the frequent flyer website. Cashed it all in and beat it to AZ.

Before you go all J. Alfred Prufrock on me, just remember…it’s cold in Wisconsin. Damn cold. Freeze your boogers cold. Humans just were not meant for that kind of cold. If we were, we would have a lot more hair. And don’t start with the “where’s your hair dude jokes”. If I could grow a mullet again I would. Dang that was a hairstyle for the ages. In fact, I saw a chick with the most spectacular mullet, maybe ever, just yesterday. Yep, kinda makes you want to go and listen to some Journey or old Metallica right now. (not that newer shaved head Metallica either).

So, Arizona. Sunshine, cactus, girls with less clothes on, MTB riding, burritos, more riding, sunshine and burritos. Yes, I did put up burritos twice. I just put it up twice, because putting it up 5 times would be really redundant.

We really didn’t have a huge plan when we left, but we did have MTB shoes , sunscreen and a credit card along for the ride. So here is the summary.
Wednesday – MTB ride, Mexican food
Thursday- MTB ride, Mexican food
Friday – MTB ride, Mexican food (I think it is a law or something there)
Saturday – MTB ride, Mexican food, Supercross race.
It was nearly the perfect few days. Almost, but there wasn’t any Moto riding.

I think it is a law there or something.

The Supercross race always delivers also. Lots of great people watching, immaculate bikes etc… Saw some old friends there Shane Nalley from Suzuki (@suzukishane) etc… Oh, and Dungey won. He rides a KTM and a Trek, just like I do. Hmmm… a pattern?

Supercross view from our seats. Pretty cool

There is always a light show.

Ready for a good time

Looking forward to doing it again.

Now off to Brussels Belgium for work for the week. Back home for the weekend next Saturday. I pick up my new 250F and have just a few days to prep it to be ready to head to Randy Hawkins to shake it down and race it at the first National Enduro at Sumter. Ugh…, can you say 4 hours of sand whoops? (of course you can, right…you just said it to yourself.)

Out,
Joe

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Ironman GNCC video

Have you ever wondered what it is like to start the afternoon race from the last wave.  Well, now you will see.

This is my start and a bit of the course for the Ironman GNCC race in Crawfordsville this year.  I got a crap start, but redeemed myself by the end.  It is hard to boil a 3 hour race down to just 15 minutes, but here goes.

out… till Loretta’s.

Joe

Hixton double double!!!

Hixton.

A storied place.  I have had a lot of good races here.  But, the trail has gotten a bit beat.  This year, Mat Herrington (@matty_racer414) and Brian Terry (@Bterry15) took it upon themselves to make a new trail on the CMJ raceway.  It rocked.

Here is a little video of most of the 1st lap of the +40 class.  This is from Saturday.  I did ok on Saturday.

The course was way more up hill and down hill than the video leads on.  But, it was super fun.  I had a good race and finished 2nd.  But, John got away right away in the first lap, while I struggled to get up to that speed.

Scott and I stayed at Black River Falls on Saturday night, and had dinner in Black River Falls at Rozario’s Italian in BRF.  I was ok.  Kinda cool to stay overnight in a small Wisco town.  I love summer here.

Sicily. really?

Here is a shot of Scott doing some bike surgery.  Seems like these things always need this.  This is just before Sunday’s race.

Time to go racing.

As always, there seems to be a hillclimb going on while we are racing there.  It is whacky stuff.  Here is a shot of what I thought the best dedicated hillclimb rig was there.

Nothing.

Out,

Joe

Perry Mountain Challenge video

If you have not seen this short video, give it a viewing.  This is the best Perry Mountain video I have found.  From this you can see the dust etc…  I wish our lights had been that good (or maybe that my eyes would have been as good as this camera showed).

 

 

There is also a second good video I found.  this is Brad Brackens chest cam video.  He was on the #1 pro team.

http://vimeo.com/24780044

 

Enjoy

Consumed at Perry Mountain Challenge

I have been thinking about how much fluid, food and calories I consumed at the race. You have already heard me talk about how hot it was (more than once, jeez Joe shut up about it already), and how much fluid it takes to stay ahead of that heat. So, I thought that I would try to add up just how much fluid that was and how many calories I consumed.

FLUIDS
– when I would come off the bike, I would first drink a large bottle of water. Then I would drink a large bottle of SDM Anytime mix while pedaling the bike to the camp. At the camp, I would drink a bottle of recovery drink and a bottle of water. After eating, and changing I would drink another bottle of water on the way to the pits. While riding, I would drink about 35 ounces of SDM exercise or GU brew. That is a total of 175 ounce per ride session. A total of 1050 ounces during the event.
(8.2 gallons of fluid
or
31 liters)

LIQUID CALORIES
– the bottles of water listed above contain zero calories.
The 28 ounces of recovery drink contain 175 calories.
The 28 ounces of SDM anytime contain 40 calories.
The 35 ounces of SDM exercise/GU brew contain 90 calories.
That is 305 calories each riding session from liquid sources,
or
1830 calories from liquid sources for the event.

GEL CALORIES
– I was generally eating a gel while riding my session. Matt would zip ty them to the inside of my chest protector. I could tear one off while racing and suck it down. Those say 90 calories on the outside of the package, but I suspect I only got 70 in as they are tough to eat while riding.

That is about 420 calories from gels.

FOOD CALORIES
– after each session of riding, I would make my way back to the camp, where Liz had food ready for us to eat. During the day, we had sandwiches and fruit and Nutella, and peanut butter, and cookies and M&M’s etc… At dinner time, Liz made a really great couscous meal and grilled chicken. Since a PB&J sandwich is about 300 calories, and the smallest amount of food that I had was a PB&J and some Nutella and fruit, a conservative estimate would be about 600 calories from food each time at camp.

That’s about 3600 calories from food at camp during the race.

I would also normally eat another Honey Stinger bar back at the pits while prepping goggles and helmet. Those are 190 calories.

That’s about 1140 calories from food at the pits.

TOTALS
8.2 gallons/31L of fluids

– 1830 liquid calories
– 420 calories from gels
– 3600 food calories at camp
– 1140 food calories at the pits
6990 calories consumed.

I am pretty sure that I lost weight during the event.

5 days to go!

Hi Everyone,

As you know, the Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team will be taking on the Perry Mountain 24hr Challenge.  We hope to make a good show of it.

At this point, we have done all the training hours, we have built pristine race bikes, we have sorted all the gear etc…  Not much left now, other than to load it all up and drive to Alabama and get after it.

From the start of the drive, you can follow along with us.
– You can follow along with us, minute by minute with our Twitter feeds.  We will post up pictures, and notes and wacky things that we see along the way.

@vesrahoffroad

@joev3

– We will update our blog site more than once, and may have a couple of guest bloggers with us who will be helping crew for us.
www.vesrahsuzukioffroad.com
Scott’s blog
Joe’s blog

– We will post up photos in a mobile me gallery site all weekend long.
http://gallery.me.com/joevadeboncoeur#100048

It is going to be a huge adventure, and we plan to have more fun than anyone could possibly imagine.

Thanks for the help from:
– Vesrah + Suzuki
– Victory Circle Graphix
– Factory Connection suspension
– Kenda tires
– Moose Racing
– Bell Helmets/Easton components
– GPR steering dampers
– Rekluse
– Magura
– Zipty

Thanks for following along,
Joe + Scott

Whistler Bike Park – I’m Not There!

Whistler Bike Park Is Open!!!!

If this doesn’t make you want yo go ride, nothing will!

Enjoy!

Bam. Just like that it is spring, and the Aztalan race is over.

That is how it goes.  One day it is snowing, and freezing cold, and the next day it feels like spring in Wisconsin.  Last week we had a snowstorm, and then Sunday it was 59, and the leaves started popping out.  Wow.  But, way more important as a sign of Spring was that Sunday was the 1st D16 HS race.

Its that time of the year again. Follow the arrows.

The 1st race is always a glorious thing.  Everyone comes out of hibernation.  People you have not heard from in 5 months are all of a sudden high on your radar again.  What never ceases to amaze me is that it all can seem so normal.  I mean, think about it, we have all been cooped up inside for months dreaming about racing our motorcycles.  We watch Supercross (which is a best a poor substitute for riding in the woods).  We go to the gym.  We ride our bicycles on the trainer.  We load up and go south to do a race (normally you do that and suffer, as it is the 1st time you have ridden a motorcycle in months).  We go out to the garage and watch last years enduro races on DVD while riding the trainer or working on our motorcycles.  All the while, ticking down the days till the 1st local race.  Sometimes it seems like it will never get here.

Bam.  Just like that it is here and we are back at it.

Ready for a new race season. That is Scott's bike with the #3, and mine with the #303 - new numbers this year.

This week we all figured the 1st race was going to be a mudder.  It has been raining forever, it seemed.  Last year, Aztalan was pouring down rain all morning of the race and the race was the most horrible mudder ever.  The dirt there is mostly clay mixed with rocks.  The combination is devastating on a motorcycle.  After last years race, it seemed that the whole motorcycle was throwaway.  Plastic, grips, tires, bearings, chain, sprockets, brake pads… ugh  it all had to be replaced.

As I said, we all figured it was going to be another mudder.  But, it turned up dry.  I am talking dusty dry.  Wow.  What a difference a year makes.

The crowd was huge on the line.   There were about 15 on our line for the +40 class.  A lot of guys who I did not know.   But, as the story unfolds, you will see that as it has seemed the past years – the race comes down to John and I.

On the line, I could not get my bike to start in gear.  I tried on the practice starts, but it would not crankup in gear.  So, I was forced to start the bike in neutral.  A neutral start normally does not mean good things.  With my Rekluse Core EXP auto clutch, I would suggest that the clutch plates need replacing.  I kinda knew that before the race, but opted not to replace them as I did not want to have the 1st ride be in a race.  I also stalled once during the race, so I am certain the plates need to be replaced.  But, in spite of my hampered starting technique, I got an excellent start.  3rd in the 1st turn and 2nd before we left the MX track.  The guy in front of me was clearly a Motocrosser as he was great on the track but not as good in the woods.  I did manage to pass him in the 1st lap and I started to put down my head.  But, he was not giving up and followed me hard for about 4 laps.

Aztalan is not a long lap, so you get to know the lap very very well.  A couple of laps in, John was suddenly with us.  I found out later, that he got a poor start and struggled to get through the rest of the field.  I also learned later, that we had completely gapped the rest of the group.  The race went on that way for about an hour.  The 3 of us together, me leading, but unable to break those guys.

good image of what the conditions were actually like on Sunday. Nearly perfect.

Aztalan is a great little race course.  Rollie always does a great job with the course.  He understands that a HS is not a 2 hour MX race.  Generally we hit the jumps backwards and join and leave the course multiple times.  Great fun.  There was only one little section that was just too tight for a few people to make it up, and had to be removed about 15 minutes into the race.

About an hour in, I made a mistake and gave up both 1st and 2nd.  John put his head down right then and then put a gap into the MX’er and I.

Eventually I got passed the MX’er and put a gap into him, but John was really going fast.  Really fast.  I did not have anything for him this weekend.  My hat is off to him.

In the end, John put about 30-40 seconds on me, and that was it.  The season is young though.  I will have my chances, and it will be a great season for John and I to race each other hard.

My fitness was super.  I have to say that Mary Grinacker has devised a fantastic program for me that has my fitness at a super level.

I did screw up my knee braces and dug bloody cuts into the back of my legs. Fortunately it was only a 2 hour race, if that was to happen in the 24 hour...ouch!

Artsy

Thanks a ton to all of our sponsors.

Vesrah

Suzuki

Bell helmets

Moose racing

Factory Connection

Kenda tires

Zipty racing

Go to South Carolina, and ride yourself crazy boy!

The Mat is hearing that he is needing to be arriving on the driveway .  And so he does.

On Wednesday night, Mat came to my house.  He was packed up and ready to go to Sourth Carolina.  Yes, you heard me right, go to South Carolina and ride ourselves crazy and then do the 1st national enduro!  Heck yes, I said, I am will be wanting to do just that.  woo hoo!

If you just want the summary of the 1st 2 days of the trip, we drove a long way, it rained on the way, we arrived and then slept, we got up to nice temps and no more rain, we rode ourselves silly.

We had decided to stay overnight at my house, then leave at like the 3ish of AM.  I explained it away that I was old and needed my beauty sleep.  Yes, JD thinks I am a wuus now.

The drive was, well long.  As usual, we made jokes along the way about the quad class at a GNCC.  Seems like that is what motorcycle guys do, invent new quad classes that they could compete in.  Ours is sponsored by Keystone beer.  It would involve drinking a beer each time through scoring and then doing another lap.  The winner would be the rider who’s last lap time was the closest to their first lap time.  Cannot decide if you need to wear a sleeveless tshirt for this class though.

On Friday, we rode at Randy Hawkins property.  It is an incredible thousands of acres piece of property.  Tons of people out there riding.  All the pros getting ready for the GNCC races and National Enduros etc…  Paul Whibley was there, Jordan Ashburn etc…  They were going fast.

I set up a small loop that was part sand track and part woods loop.  I had arranged to test 2 different tire combination’s.  I tri

ed my base tire just to get a feel for the trail in the morning.  Then went to the Kenda Washougal front and Millville rear.  I did 3 laps with different tire pressures.  Then I changed to the Washougal rear and did that at 3 different tire pressures.  I ran out of time and did not get to try the new Millville front, so that will have to wait for the next testing session.

I can say that I am pretty pleased with the Washougal front and rear combo, at 9.5psi.  I am planning to run that on Sunday.  Hope I do not flat.

At the end of the day, I saw Randy talking to the Factory Connection guys.  I got a few minutes to tell him thanks for allowing us to ride here.  I am sure he hears that all the time, but it was really cool for guys from Wisconsin to be riding their bikes on trails in February.

Today, on to Salley SC for the National Enduro.

Endless Summer

This little video comes along at a time when we really need it.  It is winter, and we are all DYING to get out and ride in the dirt.  I will be doing that with Brian Terry, JD and Mat at the National Enduro in South Carolina in just 19 days.  Yikes!

I have not even started a motorcycle since November 1.  Oh well, there is no better way to get started!

Regardless, watch this and you will see why Scott and I (along with everyone else) do this sport.

check back in 19 days for the first race results and stories of the year.

Kick butt weekend

Sunday evening.  Wow, what a weekend.

1.  Big MTB trail event at work on Friday, dedicated a trail to the memory of Chris Funk, huge bonfire and night time MTB ride.

2.  Saturday, was all about trying to get my bike working after my FAIL at the GNCC race.

3.  Sunday morning, I put together about 15 sponsor packets for the Vesrah Suzuki Offroad team.

4.  Sunday, rode the RMZ 250 at some killer trails, that are just 30 miles from my house.  Yippeee!!!

5.  Sunday evening, washed motorcycles and bicycles.  Yep.

So that pretty much sums up the weekend.  Yes, it is pretty lame that in my book that constitutes a good weekend.  But, alas it does.

On Friday we dedicated a trail at work to Chris Funk.  Chris died last year, after battling brain cancer for years.  We all still miss him.  So, we took the most popular trail at the Trek Trails (Trad) and put up a monument on a rock to Chris and renamed the trail Funk.  We installed the monument and had Chris’s wife Brandi out to show it to her.  Chris’s parents were in town and they came out as well.

It is really apropos as he was one of the most popular people at Trek and that is the most popular trail out there.  Now, every time I blitz down that trail – I can say hello to Chris as I terrorize his trail.

Glad I knew you Chris, we all still miss you.

After that memorial event, we did a fun TT, drank a bunch of beer, burned a bunch of things in a huge bonfire and then did some night riding and then drank some more beer.  It was huge fun.

We even burned a crappy old Schwinn bike after we ghost rode it and tossed it as far as we could.

Burning Bike!

Liz and I were going to camp out at the trails, but we failed that.  No real excuse, other than it was cold.  Oh well, next year.

On Saturday, I worked on my motorcycle and found out that the slide was bad and all gonked up.  I did figure it out, but I am embarrassed that it was so nasty inside that carb.  That will not happen again.

On Sunday, I went riding at some trails on Bob Kau’s land.  In a nutshell.  HOLY SHIT THOSE TRAILS KICK ASS!!!  Me, Brian Terry, John Buechner.  Brian got a new Bike!  He bought a LARGE full size bike.  He says 250’s are for pussys, so he got a 450.  Dang, he is fast on it.

Brian and the new bike! Big, but fun to ride. I think he will be fast on that.

Stack of team updates going to sponsors. Thanks guys.

So, a few more rides, maybe another race or 2 and then old man winter will be here.  It will be just training in the gym and counting the days till the first race.  Ugh…

Oh well, here goes

Out,

Joe

I’ve had a lot of good races lately, this wasn’t one

As usual, Scott and I headed down to do the Ironman GNCC race. There have been years when we have done all the GNCC races and years when we have done very few. Even in the years with very few, we never miss the Ironman. It is THE classic GNCC race.

My bike looked sweet, ready for the race.

If you would just like the summary, it was dry. Super dry. Mike bike failed and I DNF’d. Scott won his class. It was a tough way to end my season, but it was not a complete fail, as at least Scott did well.

Josh Strang's bike was dialed and ready to go.

Josh had the coolest gripper seat I have ever seen

Josh loves his Trek

I have been riding super three last months. All of my races lately have just gotten better and better. I guess was due for a crummy one.

It had not rained in Indiana since august. I am serious. It was dust bowl dry. I have never seen s place so dry. The dust was insane.

On Saturday, I left at the butt crack of dawn to pick up Scott at the Chicago airport. He had arrived there early, and I had loaded up the van to collect him there and go straight to the race. We arrived at noon and unpacked the mountain bikes and rode a complete lap on the course. The uphills seer so powdery, we could not even ride up them. It was like riding through soft powder, sometimes up to your calf.

Imagine following that dust cloud into the woods.

The trail

We set up early on Sunday, then did a course walk with the Suzuki guys. It was cool to see the track with Josh Strang. He does not look at the course the same way that us mortals do. The things I was worried about in the trail, he did not even notice.

When my wave started, I got a medium start. Somewhere in the middle. But, as soon as we got into the woods, I begins picking off riders. I got myself to where I could see the front, but then my bike bogged and came to a stop. I kicked and kicked, and it finally started. I took off, and just 50 meters it did it again.

When I got it started for the 2nd time, I made my way to the pits. I thought the throttle was sticking. It was. I lubed up the cable thinking that was the problem, and headed back out. On the very next hill, I gunned it hard and the throttle stuck wide open. The bike launched into a tree, and tweaked the front end. My day was done.

Scott had a great day. He won his class. He is the first of the 2 of us to do that. Yet.

Proud Boy. He should be.

On to next year. I hope to have a new injected bike then. I will not quit going to the Ironman, until I score a top 5 effort there.

Out

Of course there were monster truck rides - why wouldn't there be?

If you do not have a monster truck, you build a monster golf cart I guess. Oh, and equip it with a rocking stereo that you can blast Hair Band music from the 80's.

The definitive post on my Ohio #GNCC

That ranked as the hardest and least fun that I have ever had on a motorcycle.

We knew it was going to be hard, yesterday when we watched the quad race.  It was muddy when we first got here, then it rained big while we were watching the quad race.  It rained during the night.  It rained a “gates of hell” cats and dogs kind of rain thunderstorm lightning kind of deal for over an hour before the what should have been the morning race start.  There was water standing everywhere.  There was a complete river across the motocross track.

The view out of the van window in the morning, while it rained cats and dogs at the track

The morning race almost didn’t happen.  We went to a riders meeting, where they discussed running the morning and the afternoon race together at 1pm.  They decided against that, as that would have just been too much in the way for the pro’s.  They ran the morning race for 1 hour at 11:30.  They ran our race at 1:40 for 2 hours.

That is the ground in front of our pits. Saturated.

The start area was on the MX track, and was an almost impossible hill to get up to get to the first turn.  In the morning race, there were riders that never made it to the 1st turn.  I should have put my bike back in the van at that point and gone home.

First turn on the MX track

It was crazy just getting off the MX track in our race.  When we left the MX track, there was a grassy sidehill to get to the woods.  I turned completely around backwards in that grassy sidehill.  That was the first of many times that would happen to me.  The open areas of the course were just as hard as the woods.  They were so sloppy and slippery, that you would just spin out with no advanced warning.  I tried them slow, I tried them fast, I tried clearing the tires out by going a bit fast, then slow – nada.  Nothing worked.  You just had to be prepared to be on the ground at any time.

I know I was on the ground at least 10 times in that 1st lap.  I was stuck in ruts more times than I can remember.  Sometimes you could get out on your own, other times you needed help from a spectator.  The woods were one big long super slippery rut.  My legs are toasted from paddling through the ruts.  Your legs are just outriggers.

Every rut in the woods was full of water and clay as hard as cement.  I think that Ohio is just one big pile of clay.  It sticks to everything and becomes hard.  I cannot wait to clean my bike!  It is going to be epic.

–       all the plastic is trashed.

–       The decals are all torn and coming off.

–       The brake pads are shot.

–       The tires are almost torn off.

–       The chain and sprockets are completely trashed.

–       The bearings on the wheels and the suspension linkages will be toasted.

–       The grips are worn through

This will have been an expensive endeavor.  2 hours of racing will equal 8+ hours of cleaning and working on the bike.

There is a motorccle under there somewhere

Uck...the cleanup

In spite of everything above, I was having maybe my best GNCC race.  Ya, go figure eh?  Normal GNCC laps will take me between 25 and 35 minutes, depending on the course and conditions.  (The pros are usually about 20-25 minutes).  My first lap was 1+ hour.  The fist lap for the pro’s were 29 minutes.  Cory Buttricks last lap (race winner) was nearly 50 minutes.  The whole course got really really bad as the race went on.  In spite of that, I was in 3rd at the end of the 1st lap – unfortunately I did not finish a 2nd lap.  I could not.  I am completely chuffed.

I do not think I will come back to Ohio to do another race. GNCC regulars hate the place.  I understand it is always raining there, and the whole state seems to be made of clay.  Ohio is just one big pile of clay.

Mat. Saying what we are thinking.

So this was not a fun GNCC race.  But, I was still racing my motorcycle.  That is a better day than not racing a motorcycle.  Now for the long drive home and then tomorrow starting the cleanup.

OMG.

Yep

Hard to imagine that it was that bad, but it was.

Out.

Joe

GNCC day before

It has been a while since I did a GNCC race, other than Crawfordsville.  Last year, that was the only one that I did.  Weird.  In 2008, GNCC is all that Scott and I did.  We did all the GNCC races, and not many local races.  Last year, the opposite – we did mostly local races and just the Ironman in Crawordsville.  This year, I am trying to do a few GNCC races, a few National Enduro’s and as many of the local races as I can.

So, Mat Herrington (414 Racing) and I loaded up his van and headed to Ohio for the John Penton GNCC race. Mat has been having a fantastic season.  He is on a roll of finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd at local Harescrambles in the AA class.  So, it is time for me to shoot for my best GNCC result and for Mat to take his early season form and try it against the GNCC crew.

Mat has a Ford panel van, much like Scott’s.  But, it has a couple of things that Scott’s does not.

Scott’s

–        Diesel

–        arm rests on the seats

–        Sirrius/XM radio

–        history

Mat’s

–        Cruise Control

–         really comfortable back seat that you can lay flat on to take a nap

Me, luxuriating on "the couch" in the van.

It’s amazing how much difference something like Cruise Control can make.  I really had forgotten how much of a difference it makes to drive with Cruise control.  It is so much more relaxed.

We did not leave until 9pm on Friday, with the intention of driving all night.  It was a LONG night.  Mat drove until 1:15am, then I drove till 4:30am.  Mat slept while I drove, but I still had not slept at all until when Mat got back behind the wheel at 4:30.  I slept then till really when we arrived at the track.  Felt good, and I can tell you that the couch does sleep well.

Found a radio station in Indianapolis that really rocks.  Rock 95 (although it showed up at 94.7).

We arrived at the track at about 8am, in time to see the morning quad race.  The morning race had nearly perfect conditions.  Just after the morning race, all hell broke loose.  We started into a pattern that rained just about every hour for the rest of the day.  The afternoon race was an absolute mud pit.

This is what everyone looked like in the afternoon race

Now we are in the hotel, and looking to get to sleep very soon here.  Tomorrow is going to be an absolute mudbath.  My bike, my gear and everything else I expect to be ruined.

Here is a video from the last super mudbath GNCC at the John Penton.  This is my day tomorrow.

That is it for me.  Another post will come after the race.

Joe

No more local riding

Snowed on Friday.  More snow coming today/tonight.  Possibly 5-6 inches.  If that happens, we will definetely be done riding this year.  Knew it was coming, it always does.  But, I was just so hopeful that it wasn’t really going to be soon.  You know, living in denial.

Since I didn’t get to make it to Tennessee with Mark and Scott, I was just so hopeful that I could still ride locally somehow.  Not to be.  Winter has decided to step in here in Wisconsin.  I suppose that is ok, as it is time to work on the garage, work on my motorcycle, ski, train and get ready for next year.

So, today I am going to work on the garage a bit, take an inventory of things in the garage, create a laundry list of bike-gear-garage things that I need to work on, figure out locations for a few things that just have not gotten put away this fall etc…

New Pipe

My friend JD Friebel called the other day to brag that his new 4strokes are quieter than my 4stroke.  (I am exagerating of course, he called for a number of other reasons – that is just the one that I am quoting here.  I have to make the story fit my point after all.)

My teammate Scott and I have absolutely fallen in love with our Suzuki RMZ250 4strokes.  But, we both wish they were a bit quieter.  Not that riding a dirt bike doesn’t have some noise associated with it.  I just don’t like being THAT guy.  Mark Junge has pledged to work with us also to try to quiet the things down a bit and still have power.  Not the easiest things to do.

I am also working on it on my own.  So, I ordered up a new FMF exhaust system.

Always nice when you have boxes like this show up! Feel the power!

And Inside!

So, I have a new Q muffler from FMF, and a new stainless Mega-Bomb header.  FMF literature claims below 96db on the muffler and the header also claims a reduction in noise as well as more torque and 1.5hp.  We will see.

Now it is time to get the suspension back to FC to be reworked.  Going to ask them to take it back to the GNCC setting.  I am finding that a bunch of our racing is more about speed than it is to go through super technical enduro terrain.  I am doing a National Enduro in January, but by spring time we will be back to HS racing every weekend.

Ready to go back to Factory Connection for some love. Check out that floor!

Tough time of the year for moto guys, but eveything comes back around.  Spring will be here and the timer on my computer says that that the first race will be here in about 130 days.  Seems like an eternity, but it will be here soon enough.

Joe

Cleaned my bike after Crawfordsville – OMG

Took at least an hour to clean my bike. There was at least 40 lbs of mud on the bike. It was everywhere. The plastic, chain, sprockets, brake pads all went straight to the trash.

 

Love that Crawfordsville race and course, but man is it hard on equipment.

 

Out.